Thursday, January 28, 2010

More than Music: the Banter

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It's just the tunes, right? That's the reason we all don our dancing shoes and leave our cozy rooms for the wild world downtown. Well, yes, the music's a big part of it. But let's be honest, amazing songs from super talented bands abound in Athens! It takes more than just a rockin' set of songs to stand out in this town.

So what do some bands do to keep us coming back for more? Well, most songs take a bit of setup time, but nobody wants to just stare off into space while they wait for the music to start again. After all, we are the get-it-now generation. These bands embrace the time between tunes to give us unforgettable experiences that we could never have lounging around listening to the stereo at home. How do they do it? Well, they simply open their mouths!

Banter. Talk. Spontaneous awkward conversations with the audience and with each other. It's so simple yet so wonderfully entertaining! Some of the things I've heard downtown would make even the most stoic people burst into hysterical laughter. Classic stuff.

Most of my favorite bands employ this technique to keep their fans excited. During one of the very first shows I saw in Athens, Venice is Sinking's drummer Lucas kept an awesomely hilarious commentary going as the rest of the band adjusted their instruments. The second time I saw them, he and singer Karolyn had a highly amusing mock argument during the show about the pronunciation of their album AZAR. Fun, interesting, relevant to the music... You've got to love these guys!

Atlanta band The Constellations give their whole set a sexually charged atmosphere as they flirt incessantly between songs. Lead singer Elijah especially loves to dish out lust-filled compliments to anyone and everyone in the audience and to the beautiful girls of the clap squad too. He's also not afraid to say whatever crazy thing comes to mind, and I absolutely love it! Some of the things he says would shock your mother and make your father cringe. It's all so in the moment! The crowd just can't wait to find out what he says next.

Birthed of pure joy, the Warm Fuzzies put a cute, personal spin to their songs by giving a bit of a background story. Why this subject, why this song? Often their stories are completely off the wall, but true or not, these tales make the songs that follow even more fun to hear! I just adore learning how a band came up with their lyrics, what they were doing when the tune came to them, or who their love song is really about. Ooh, juicy!

And, of course, I can't forget Crumbling Arches! These guys have banter down to an art form; they're the undisputed kings of the talk. Half the reason I love their shows so much is that I can't get enough of their between-song insanity. I've heard curiously ridiculous stories about their childhood, tattoo explanations, wonderfully awkward puns, band history tidbits, rap battles, and even an impromptu song so wild it made the audience squeal with glee. These always make for an incredibly memorable night!

All that bands need for this bit of banter is the creativity they already possess. Perfect! And hey, even for the bands that really hate using their voice instruments for the "lesser act" of speaking, merely introducing the band and sharing the name of the song to be played works too. I mean, how else are we supposed to pick out our favorites?

But talking's not the only thing bands do to gain a bit of a reputation around here, of course. Stay tuned for another chapter of More than Music!

To read about all of the ingredients that make up a live show to top all others, click here!

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